Competiton Judging: Olympics and Unicycling

This is being moved over from something that started in the “Unicycle articles but wait there’s more” thread.

John Foss wrote:

So Wheaties becomes Weenies? No, I think they are just being cautious, if anything. They already have the girl gymnast on the box apparently, and it was hard for them to tell if something might change with Paul Hamm’s medal.

It shouldn’t. Watching their problems with judging and officials made me feel a little better about the problems we had at Unicon. But some of our problems were still unacceptable for a Unicon. The stuff that was going on a the Olympics was way beyond unacceptable. As far as I have seen, the officials have yet to apologise or in any way acknowledge any wrongdoing.

The officials need to be better than the athletes. Anything less, and they are not worthy to judge them. The same is true for unicycling. I think our sport (Freestyle) will be helped by changing to a system where the judging marks are public. This way problems will show up a lot quicker.

Sarah Miller replied:

For officials to be better than athletes wouldn’t we need a never ending merry go round of competitions … After all the athletes (riders) may be practiseing 12+ hours a week. I have my doubts about public marking, its Ok at the top where people may be only a few points apart, but how about the bottom, should we really be publicly humilliating children (and remember a lot of our best riders are only children) who get low marks, seems to me that will put them off further competition not encourage them to continue.
We also need to rember that our judges ARE volunteers, just regular convention goers like you or I, they don’t live in a removed campus, they are helping out and shouldn’t be put in a position where riders (or riders moms) start to hassle them about an indiviuals low mark.

Re: Competiton Judging: Olympics and Unicycling

It’s true we don’t have enough competitions for our officials and systems to get much practice at it. Nevertheless, I do not believe we are meeting what should be minimum standards in some areas. We can do better, we just need to make the effort.

The truth shouldn’t hurt. Olympic athletes are expected to get nines. Beginner and intermediate riders need to expect lower numbers. But it’s not that bad. Each group is judged in relation to the other riders in the group. Though we haven’t developed a system for “immediate” scoring, I would expect the numbers to be relative ones, not absolutes. So even a ride in a beginner class could earn a nine.

On the one hand, I totally agree. Will judges be hassled for having opinions? I hope not. A judge that’s a pure volunteer would not have any status as an expert at judging, either.

In any case, last-minute volunteers, or any type of inexperienced persons, should not be judging expert riders under any circumstances. It says so in the rulebook also. This is one area where we really need to improve. Even if we don’t get a judge training and certification program set up, we can at least choose our judging panels in advance, and make sure they all have previous experience.

What we need to set up is a situation where the judges have credentials. They have studied and passed some sort of training and/or testing process to become judges. On top of this certification, which will require renewal, judges should be tracked as to how much experience they have with various events and age/skill levels.

A judge with credentials should be a lot less prone to criticism than one who just got asked and volunteered that day. Some parents will be pains-in-the-bum no matter what you do, but unfortunately this will not cure that.

BTW, the judges at Unicon XII received financial compensation for their work. I do not know the extent of this, but I have heard from at least three judges that were paid for their services. I don’t know much about the Unicon budgeting, but it looks like the artistic area had more money to spare than track, for example, where many volunteers were unpaid. I assume most (or all) of the Japanese officials and workers were unpaid. There was no money to cover all of that!

I believe public marking is the best way to go aswell. Kids will have to learn that sometimes you have to come last, but if they lose by a lot this may then in the future get them to compete in a more appropriate class, or a big bonus for the sport: practice more!

If it’s too create a new judging system for intermediate and beginner class, I think they could be scored the same as the expert class is (if it could work that way) and then scale the marks up. Multiply it by a certain number to get the top score up to a nicer number to look at just not to… well make the kids feel like they’re not good.

BUT International unicycling freestyle competition at present doesn’t HAVE a choice of classes to include novice or intermediate. Its age group or expert only self selected and regardless of ability. The USA have been experimenting with different ability classes but its not in the IUF rule book yet.

Or score them out of a different total. 20/100 or 20/50 its still 20.
9.3 out of 10 or 4.3 out of 5 your still 7 marks off top.

I’m glad that some ideas are being kicked about publicly. When does the rule book committe start up and how do I get involved?